Liberal MNA Paule Robitaille posthumously awarded the Medal of the National Assembly to Riley Valcin Thursday. The 22-year-old died working at Montreal’s Old Port ferris wheel La Grand Roue on Christmas Day.
His older brother Joey Valcin said “Riley would be ecstatic” to be receiving one of Quebec’s highest honours.
“He was a competitor. A warrior. And to be remembered in such a way by receiving the Medal of the National Assembly from Paule Robitaille, I think it was an amazing feat, even he would be impressed,” said Valcin.
The ceremony was held in the auditorium of Riley’s former high school in Montreal North, École Secondaire Henri-Bourassa.
Robitaille said it has two purposes: to honour Riley and ensure his memory is carried on in the neighbourhood.
“We want the young people who are here today to look up to someone like that,” she said. “We want to inspire them.”
Riley was born in Haiti. His family moved to Montreal in 2004.
The 22-year-old was studying civil engineering at École Polytechnique when he died.
“It is hard to get there, but he did it and he showed every kid that it is possible when they stay focused and believe in themselves,” said his former coach Wilmann Edouard.
Riley’s coaches, teachers and friends say they will remember him as loyal, kind, funny and hard-working.
“It’s a really big loss. He was my best friend. But he was also my brother,” said Riley’s best friend Roberto Rivera Rubio.
Still mourning the loss, the Valcin family says events like the one held Thursday help them heal.
“We are really touched as a family that our Riley, even though he died tragically, people will remember him for the wonderful human being was,” said Joey Valcin.
École Secondaire Henri-Bourassa now has a $1,000 scholarship in Riley’s name, created by his family and Robitaille.
His family is trying to establish another one at École Polytechnique.
“We’re trying to keep his memory alive by inspiring the next generation of youth to take matters into their own hand and go after their goals, focus in school and become the best version of yourself,” said Joey Valcin.
According to the CNESST, the investigation into the cause of Riley’s death is still ongoing.
“Once the investigation is complete, a report will be written and then made public, probably within the next few months,” spokesperson Émilie Bouchard Labonté wrote in an email to Global News.